Folklore and Superstition"
Gordon L. Krause (Crow Busters Founder)
This being the Halloween season,
it’s natural to take notice of the fact that the crow has
been regarded throughout history in a mysterious and
sometimes ominous way. Perhaps more than any other
animal, save the bat or the black cat, the crow and raven
have been generally depicted in dark situations in both
literature and film. Who doesn’t visualize a raven when they
think of macabre writings of Edgar Allan Poe and his
preoccupation with omens of death? And who can forget the
playground scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”? And just
about every movie with a creepy graveyard or haunted
mansion, the eerie calling of crows can be heard in the
background. Lets face it, they never got the good press of
the eagle, the duck or even the lowly pigeon. Maybe they
just had a bad publicist!
Some of this can be attributed
to our penchant to stereotype creatures for our own
pleasure. After all, what better creature to pick for an
omen of bad things to come than a large black bird with an
But I believe it is goes deeper than that. Being natural
scavengers, crows have been hanging around places of human
misery such as battlefields since the dawn of civilization.
In fact, one of the most disturbing recollections of
reporters that visited Hiroshima after the bombing was the
absolute plague of crows that descended upon the remains of
the city. I’m sure the same scene has played itself out many
times throughout man’s violent history.
Yes, crows have been historically associated with death
in a very personal way. Add to that the crow’s innate
intelligence, and it’s natural that we should have elevated
the common crow to a mythological level above and beyond
that of a normal bird. So here are some examples of
superstitions and folklore that have lasted the test of
time. Silly and out of date? Probably. But then maybe you
haven’t walked through a dark graveyard lately.
- Crows have been used for the purpose of divination
since the time of ancient Rome.
- Finding a dead crow on the road is good luck.
- Crows in a church yard are bad luck.
- A single crow over a house meant bad news, and often
foretold a death within. "A crow on the thatch, soon death
lifts the latch."
- It was unlucky in Wales to have a crow cross your
path. However, if two crows crossed your path, the luck
was reversed. "Two crows I see, good luck to me" .
- In New England, however, to see two crows flying
together from the left was bad luck.
- When crows were quiet during their midsummer's molt,
some European peasants believed that it was because they
were preparing to go to the Devil to pay tribute with
their black feathers.
- Often, two crows would be released together during a
wedding celebration. If the two flew away together, the
couple could look forward to a long life together. If the
pair separated, the couple might expect to be soon parted.
- In Somerset (West Country of England) locals used to
carry an onion with them for protection from magpies or
- The French had a saying that evil priests became
crows, and bad nuns became magpies.
- The Greeks said "Go to the Crows" the same way we
would say "Go to Hell."
- The Romans used the expression "To pierce a Crow's
eye" in relation to something that was almost impossible
- An Irish expression, "You'll follow the Crows for it"
meant that a person would miss something after it was
- The expression, "I have a bone to pick with you" used
to be " I have a crow to pick with you".